Cling to love and faithfulness

Published 9:54 am Thursday, December 24, 2015

By now most of the beautifully wrapped packages have been opened and our attention has shifted toward other things. Some of those thoughts might be the dread of the credit card bills—swollen drastically by holiday usage–that will soon arrive. Then not too far over the horizon there looms the detestable task of income tax season, but let’s just leave that thought way back in the deepest recesses of our minds for now and deal with it at the appropriate time.

As we approach the end of another year and prepare to embark upon a new one, we might be evaluating what we have experienced over the past twelve months, while hoping for greater success in the upcoming year.

I recall a mission that my wife sent me on before Christmas that left me wondering if I had succeeded or failed.

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Instead of buying each other gifts at work, it was decided that everybody would bring a twenty-five dollar gift card to exchange. That made for easy shopping, but it took away most of the element of surprise in receiving a gift. Nevertheless, my assignment was not to figure out if it was a good method of gift-giving; all I was supposed to do was buy the gift card for her to give to one of her coworkers.

That was simple enough of a task and I could handle it with ease. It came with a detail, however, that caught me off guard. Before I paid for the card I noticed information written in rather small print that stated that an activation fee would be added to the card. Interesting! And sure enough, when I got to the checkout I found that that twenty-five dollar gift card would actually cost me thirty. But as I have found out over the decades, there’s no need to argue with city hall, so I paid for the thing and went happily on my way. Happy that is, that I only had to buy one!

Gale’s gift exchange went as planned and she came home with her gift as promised—a twenty-five dollar gift card. I have yet to figure out, though, if I lost five dollars in the gift exchange or if I helped supply someone with a nice gift for only five dollars. Either way, the company that issued the gift card came out ahead. Indeed, life is filled with mysteries—and inequalities!

As we close out this year and think ahead to 2016, it might be hard for some of us to figure out whether 2015 was a prosperous one or not. Perhaps we feel like we poured a lot into our efforts, yet came away with little to show for it. In those times of evaluation we have to make certain that we are using the right standard to measure our outcome. That which appears as an absolute failure when viewed through human eyes alone might be a great success in the sight of God. In the end, pleasing Him is all that matters anyway; we please Him when we conduct our lives with faithfulness and love.

When we look back at the old year and press ahead into the new one, the words of Proverbs 3:3-4 provide invaluable wisdom to have planted in our hearts: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man” (New International Version).